U.S. Air Force Plan To Train Over Southwest Colorado And New Mexico Sparks Concerns

11/08/2010 02:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The U.S. Air Force thinks the rough-hewn peaks of southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico make excellent surrogates for the treacherous mountain ranges in global hotspots such as Afghanistan. Some local residents beg to differ.

In a bid to provide Special Operations pilots more realistic simulations of wartime missions, the Air Force has proposed a vast new tactical training zone that stretches across 94,000 square miles of rugged terrain. Starting next year, commanders want to send C-130 transport planes and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft skimming across the region after dark at altitudes as low as 200 feet and speeds of up to 288 miles per hour. They envision three sorties a night.

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